Evolutionary convergent patterns of international scientific collaboration

Mario Coccia, Lili Wang

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


International scientific collaboration has received much attention by scholars since it is a main feature
of scientific communities across different research fields. Research collaboration can take place at
different levels: individual researchers, research teams/labs, departments, universities, sectors and
nations. In economics of science, it is crucial to analyze the collaborative pattern of scientific fields in
order to understand their vital characteristics and evolutionary dynamics.
Frame and Carpenter (1979) have analyzed, considering 1973 data, the international collaborative
patterns of some scientific fields. Starting from this pioneering work, the purpose of this paper is to
investigate the international co-authorship of research institutions using new data (1997-2012 period)
and to compare the results with earlier studies to detect main characteristics (regularities) concerning
the basic structure and evolutionary dynamics of different scientific fields over time.
This study focuses on institutional collaborations in scientific fields based on article counts from the set
of journals covered by the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index in the data set by
National Science Foundation (2014). The Published articles in all scientific fields are classified by coauthorship attribute (total articles with domestic institutions only, total articles with international
institutions). These international co-authored papers across scientific fields are analyzed considering a
sample of forty countries that accounted for 97% of the worldwide total output in the studied period.
This study also considers a sub-set of 11 Western countries in order to provide results comparable with
the study by Frame and Carpenter (1979). The methodology computes per scientific field i the total
intensity of international co-authorship papers (ICPit ) during the period 1997 - 2012. The results of this
study are compared with earlier studies by Frame and Carpenter (1979) and Luukkonen et al. (1992). To
put in a comparable framework, all the values ICPit per research field i in some key years t, are
This study provides insights on the main characteristics of the evolutionary process of research fields by
international research collaborations. In particular, empirical analysis supports two vital findings, given
a) although the unparalleled growing intensity of international collaborations in different scientific
disciplines, the general structure of evolutionary pathways of research fields seems to be unchanged, so
b) a convergent process of theoretical and applied research by new pathways of international research
collaborations. This convergent process can be driven by two main simultaneous forces:
• High growth rates of international research collaborations in some research fields such as
medicine, geosciences, psychology, and biological sciences (mainly applied sciences)
• Low growth rates of international collaborations in other research fields, mainly theoretical ones
such as mathematics, chemistry and physics.
Potential determinants of this evolution of scientific patterns, based on different rates of growth of
international research collaborations between applied and theoretical sciences, can be the increasing
interdisciplinarity of current research fields and very strong impact of emerging disciplines (e.g. such as
nanoscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology, cognitive science, computational biology, bimolecular
physics, bioengineering, etc.).
This ongoing interdisciplinarity of both emerging and traditional scientific fields, associated to
technological advances, tends to induce a convergent process between basic and theoretical research
fields considering their intensities of international research collaborations.
The results of this study show that the evolution of applied and theoretical sciences is changing by a
convergence of intensities of international research collaborations across different research fields that
may due to a strategic change to take advantage of important opportunities of interdisciplinary
approaches for the solution of more and more complex problems necessary to modern societies and
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventAtlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy - GEORGIA TECH GLOBAL LEARNING CENTER, Atlanta, United States
Duration: 17 Sept 201519 Sept 2015


ConferenceAtlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

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